The deal allowing Meng Wanzhou to return home to China nearly three years after her arrest will come as a relief to all the participants in a saga that rapidly turned from a narrow legal dispute into an escalating geopolitical battle.
After the Huawei finance chief was detained on a US warrant in Vancouver airport in December 2018, Canada, China and the US soon found themselves locked into a court case which they were all – at least in political terms – doomed to lose.
Meng’s case was never going to turn purely on the idiosyncrasies of Canadian extradition law or the frankness with which she had told Huawei’s bankers HSBC about the relationship between her company and a subsidiary accused of violating US sanctions against Iran.
For one thing, even though the justice department may have felt they were doggedly acting on information about a potential breach of US sanctions law, Donald Trump made the case explicitly political by saying he would intervene to drop the charges if he thought it would help US-China trade negotiations.
China, meanwhile, felt Meng and Huawei were being used as a weapon in a wider battle. It was highly unusual for the prosecution to be directed at the chief finance officer personally and not at the corporation. Last year, Airbus agreed to pay $4bn in penalties to resolve a bribery case. In 2015, Deutsche Bank was fined $258m for violating Iran- and Syria-related sanctions. But no executives were detained in either case.